By CRM staff
Waymo's autonomous vehicle testing in Chandler, Arizona, has faced a few bumps along the way--though most cannot be blamed on the vehicle programming team. Since 2016, when Waymo --which is a subsidiary of Google -- began its testing, the vehicles have been attacked and sabotaged by a number of local residents.
Both the New York Times and the Arizona Republic reported incidents ranging from thrown rocks and sliced tires, to people attempting to run the test vehicles off the road, and even a man waving a gun at a passing Waymo car. To date, a total of 21 attacks involving Waymo vehicles in Chandler have been reported to authorities. Hostilities towards the self-driving vehicles rose when a pedestrian was struck and killed by one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles in the in Temple, Arizona, less than 20 miles away from Chandler.
Some of these acts of autonomous vehicle-directed aggression have put the perpetrators' lives on the line. In one bizzare incident, a driver aimed his Jeep directly at one of the test vehicles, forcing the car to stop in order to avoid a head-on collision.
Many experts point to the anxieties of transportation industry professionals, concerned that they will soon be replaced by autonomous vehicles.
"There's a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart," Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist from New York’s City University, told the New York Times, and author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. "Just think about the humans inside these vehicles, who are essentially training the artificial intelligence that will replace them."
In a statement Waymo explained that the attacks "involved only a small fraction of the more than 25,000 miles that the company's vans log every day in Arizona.”